KINGSEY FALLS, QC , March 11, 2016 - Cascades Inc. (TSX: CAS), a leader in the recovery and manufacturing of green packaging and tissue paper products, releases its unaudited financial results for the three-month period and the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015 .
Mr. Mario Plourde , President and Chief Executive Officer, had the following comments on the most recent quarterly results: "We concluded 2015 on a strong note with an OIBD of $104 million , the highest ever achieved for a fourth quarter and 27% higher than during the same period last year. For the full year and on a comparable asset base, the OIBD of $426 million represents a record for the Corporation and an increase of 25% compared to 2014. Our free cash flow amounted to $150 million in 2015 and was mostly used to reduce indebtedness. All of our North American groups improved their quarterly results compared to the same period last year due in part to a weaker Canadian dollar. The sequential OIBD decrease is mostly the result of seasonality. The Tissue Papers Group showed the most improvement compared to last year fourth quarter with an OIBD growth of 81% due to increased average selling prices and lower fibre costs. In the Packaging Products sector, both the Containerboard and Specialty Products groups showed solid growth with a 27% and 60% year-over-year quarterly OIBD improvement, respectively. The higher average selling price is the main factor behind this increase in the Containerboard Group and the lower fibre costs in the Specialty Products Group. The Boxboard Europe Group experienced a slight decrease compared to the last quarter of 2014, which is mostly the result of higher fibre costs. Greenpac's contribution to our results is positive since ramp-up was completed in 2014. Earnings per share contribution from our share of its results excluding specific items totaled $0.03 during the quarter."
- Sales of $3,861 million (compared to $3,561 million in 2014 (+8%))
- Excluding specific items
. OIBD of $426 million (compared to $340 million in 2014 (+25%))
. Net earnings per common share of $1.18 (compared to $0.21 in 2014)
. Greenpac contribution to net earnings per common share: $0.12 (compared to a net loss of $0.03 in 2014)
- Including specific items
. OIBD of $343 million (compared to $311 million in 2014 (+10%))
. Net loss per common share of $0.69 (compared to a net loss of $1.57 in 2014)
- Exit from the North American boxboard market
- Senior notes refinancing and amendment to our bank credit facility
- Net debt to OIBD ratio down from 4.7x to 4.0x
Q4 2015 Highlights and Recent Developments
- Sales of $975 million (compared to $1,026 million in Q3 2015 (-5%) and $879 million in Q4 2014 (+11%))
- Excluding specific items
. OIBD of $104 million (compared to $134 million in Q3 2015 (-22%) and $82 million in Q4 2014 (+27%))
. Net earnings per common share of $0.23 (compared to $0.52 in Q3 2015 and $0.08 in Q4 2014)
. Greenpac contribution to net earnings per common share: $0.03 (compared to $0.04 in Q3 2015 and $0.01 in Q4 2014)
- Including specific items
. OIBD of $44 million (compared to $122 million in Q3 2015 (-64%) and $57 million in Q4 2014 (-23%))
. Net loss per common share of $0.81 (compared to net earnings of $0.24 in Q3 2015 and a net loss of $0.51 in Q4 2014)
- Acquisition of the 27% minority interest of Cascades Recovery for a consideration of $32 million
- Net debt of $1,721 million (compared to $1,741 million as of September 30 , 2015
Results Analysis for the Three-Month Period Ended December 31, 2015 (compared to the same period last year)
In comparison with the same period last year, sales increased by 11% to $975 million as we benefited from a weaker Canadian dollar and higher average selling prices in our containerboard and tissue papers activities.
Operating income, excluding specific items, increased from $38 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 to $47 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. The increase is explained by the higher average selling prices in our containerboard and tissue papers activities, weaker Canadian dollar and lower fibre costs. Results of corporate activities were impacted by higher share-based compensation, expenses related to management employment contracts and by start-up costs for our shared services activities. Depreciation and amortization expense is higher due to the exchange rate and the review of estimated useful life of assets that have been or will be removed from service following recent capital investments.
When including specific items, operating loss amounted to $13 million in comparison to operating income of $13 million for the same period of last year, a decrease of $26 million . In the fourth quarter of 2015, the following specific items, before income taxes, impacted our operating income and/or net earnings:
- a $75 million impairment charge (including $18 million of deferred income tax assets reversal) mainly on the assets of our virgin boxboard mill in France (operating income and net earnings);
- a $4 million unrealized loss on derivative financial instruments (operating income and net earnings);
- a $1 million gain related to restructuring provision reversal (operating income and net earnings);
- a $23 million foreign exchange loss on long-term debt and financial instruments (net earnings);
- a $3 million loss related to the share of results of associates and joint-ventures (net earnings).
Impairment charge recorded during the fourth quarter on our virgin boxboard mill located in France is the result of a review of its recoverable value due to sustained difficult market conditions and continuous downward pressure on profitability margins.
Net earnings, excluding specific items, amounted to $22 million ( $0.23 per common share) in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to $8 million ( $0.08 per common share) for the same period in 2014. Including specific items, net loss amounted to $76 million ( $0.81 per common share) in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to a net loss of $47 million ( $0.51 per common share) in the same period in 2014.
Results Analysis for the Three-Month Period Ended December 31, 2015 (compared to the previous quarter)
In comparison to the previous quarter and despite favorable exchange rates, sales decreased by 5% to reach $975 million mainly due to lower seasonal shipments in all of our business segments.
This seasonal decrease in shipments combined with higher shared-based compensation and management employment contracts expenses, start-up costs for our shared services activities and higher depreciation and amortization expense, as explained previously, mostly explain the decrease in operating income, excluding specific items, from $89 million in the third quarter of 2015 to $47 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.
For further details, see the tables on IFRS and non-IFRS measures reconciliation, included herewith.
In commenting on the outlook, Mr. Plourde added: "2015 was better than the previous year in all respects. Moreover, the favorable environment that contributed to these results still prevails and should allow us to deliver a similar performance during the coming year.
We do not foresee a significant strengthening of the Canadian dollar and we are not expecting major increases in the price of recycled fibres. In addition to this, the decrease in the cost of certain of our inputs such as gas, oil and chemical products remains positive for us. These favorable conditions will allow us to accelerate initiatives to continue improving our asset base. Accordingly, we will slightly increase our capital expenditures this year. In the containerboard and tissue paper markets, we want to expand our converting operations south of the border. It is also our intention to increase our consumer product packaging capacity in the Specialty Products Group. In addition, we will pursue initiatives to improve our internal processes and reinforce our customer-centric approach. Notwithstanding the slight increase in capital expenditures, we will continue to direct a significant portion of our free cash flow to debt reduction."
Dividend on Common Shares
The Board of Directors of Cascades declared a quarterly dividend of $0.04 per common share to be paid April 1, 2016 , to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 24, 2016 . This dividend paid by Cascades is an "eligible dividend" as per the Income Tax Act (Bill C-28, Canada ).
Conference Call Information
Management will comment on the 2015 fourth quarter and annual financial results during a conference call to be held today at 10:00 a.m., EST .
Financial analysts, investors, media and other interested individuals are invited to listen to the conference call by dialing 1-866-229-4144 and using the access code 9334723#. The conference call, including the investor presentation, will also be broadcast live on the Cascades corporate website ( www.cascades.com , Investors tab on the Home page). The broadcast replay will be available on the Cascades corporate website and by phone until March 24, 2016 , by dialing 1-888-843-7419 and using the access code 9334723#.
Founded in 1964, Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres. The Corporation employs close to 11,000 employees, who work in more than 90 units located in North America and Europe . With its management philosophy, half a century of experience in recycling, and continuous efforts in research and development as driving forces, Cascades continues to serve its clients with innovative products. Cascades' common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol CAS.
Source: Cascades Inc.